Lai See

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 January, 2005, 12:00am

Xinyi glass keeps family members close, and directors even closer

Many Hong Kong firms like to keep it all in the family.

Listing candidate Xinyi Glass Holdings keeps it in the same neighbourhood as well.

The firm's bumf for its US$100 million share offering notes that chairman Lee Yin-yee has hired his brother-in-law as chief executive, the brother of his brother's wife (or his brother's brother-in-law, if you prefer) as vice-chairman and his own son and nephew as directors.

Better still, five of the company's eight directors live in town houses in the same area of Yuen Long - Sun Hung Kai Properties' Royal Palms and Palm Springs developments.

That must make it a lot easier to convene emergency board meetings way up there in the New Territories.

Two ex-regulators better than one

If having one former exchange regulator on your board improves corporate governance, why not double the benefit and hire two?

That, anyway, appears to be the thinking of Synergis Holdings, which yesterday announced the appointment of former stock exchange chief executive Alec Tsui Yiu-wa (right) as an independent non-executive director. Another former exchange boss, Kwong Ki-chi, already sits on the company's board.

Alas, Mr Tsui and Mr Kwong have not always seen eye to eye, especially since the events of five years ago, when Mr Kwong - then a senior government official - snatched the exchange throne away from Mr Tsui.

Will bygones be bygones in the boardroom?

Satisfaction guaranteed for the IR

It's that time of year again. Fearing he would be late to pay the taxman, one of Lai See's colleagues rang the Inland Revenue to confirm the due date for his hard-earned cash.

Before being put through to an IR representative, a message informed him that an automatic customer service survey would be conducted after the inquiry.

After a brief and unhappy five minutes on the phone with a brusque operator, our colleague was eager for the chance to serve up a small measure of revenge.

'If you are satisfied with this representative's service, please press one,' a robotic voice intoned.

Five seconds passed, only for the message to repeat itself: 'If you are satisfied with this representative's service, please press one.'

After more of the same it was time to hang up.

That's one way to get a perfect mark for customer satisfaction.

Hong kong still the freest economy

Hang Lung Group chairman Ronnie Chan Chichung may be of the opinion that Hong Kong is the most communist place in China, but don't tell the Heritage Foundation that.

For the 11th consecutive year, the conservative think-tank has rated Hong Kong the world's freest economy.

It makes one suspect that the Heritage Foundation's finest have never gone grocery shopping here, or tried to buy into our port.

Interestingly, seven of the foundation's top 10 freest economies are islands - Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, New Zealand, Britain, Iceland and Australia. Must be something about a stiff salt breeze and the call of the ocean that inspires free trade.

The mainland showed improvement but still ranked 112, slightly ahead of Argentina and India.

One place for which a ranking was not available was Iraq.

Depending on your point of view, 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' may or may not have achieved its political objective. But from an economic perspective, the whole exercise has apparently been a bit of a dud.

Iraq at least received a ranking when Saddam Hussein was in power.